Kolkata: The West Bengal State Election Commission today postponed counting of votes in the election to Bidhannagar and Asansol municipal corporations following allegations of large-scale violence, even as opposition parties demanded fresh elections.
“We have decided to postpone counting of votes,” State Election Commissioner Susanta Upadhyay told newspersons at the SEC office here.
The counting of votes in the elections held yesterday was scheduled to be conducted on October 7.
The SEC also postponed counting of votes for elections held in Bally under Howrah Municipal Corporation.
While Bidhannagar is in the eastern flank of Kolkata, Howrah is on western side across the river Hooghly.
Upadhyay said the SEC would go through reports and video footages of violence from its own sources and also news channels before taking any further decision.
Opposition parties in the state have demanded that the elections be countermanded and fresh elections held, alleging large-scale violence by the ruling Trinamool Congress.
To a question on repoll, Upadhyay said, “There is no question of ordering repolls at this juncture. We will take a decision after going through reports and video footages.”
Counting for elections held in wards of Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad would be held as per schedule, he said.
A blame game has ensued between the ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition parties over violence during yesterday’s elections.
The TMC today “blamed” the CPI(M) for violence during yesterday’s civic election in a counter to the opposition parties’ demand for re-election to the two civic bodies alleging loot of votes by the ruling party.
“The CPI(M) is responsible for the violence, it was a planned attack by it owing to desperation as it knows that it will be defeated in the elections,” senior TMC leader and state Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee told newspersons at the party headquarter here.
Alleging that CPI(M) leader Gautam Deb, a former minister, had threatened to bring in four to five thousand outsiders for the polls held yesterday in Bidhannagar, Mukherjee said, “It is the CPI(M) which instigated violence.”
TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee also “blamed” the CPI(M) for yesterday’s violence at Bidhannagar and Asansol.
The opposition parties alleged that a large number of outsiders had been brought in by the TMC to scare away genuine voters.
The opposition parties demanded re-election to both Bidhannagar and Asansol municipal corporations, alleging that votes were looted amid violence, turning yesterday’s polls into a ‘farce’.
“We want repoll in all booths in the Bidhannagar and Asansol municipalities in view of the rampant corrupt practices and violence,” CPI(M) politburo member Mohd Salimsaid.
“The whole election process has been rendered a farce. The State Election Commission has the responsibility to hold the election in free and fair manner, but it has failed in its duty,” Salim said.
He also demanded re-election at Bally under Howrah Municipal Corporation alleging violence in several booths there.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha, who sat on a dharna in front of the SEC office last evening, demanded that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee give up her Home (Police) portfolio,alleging that the state police force had not acted to ensurepeace and fair elections.
Demanding re-election in all booths of Bidhannagar and most booths in Asansol, Sinha said “votes were looted in all booths with the ruling party unleashing terror among genuine voters.”
“The postponement of counting gives recognition to what we have been saying about large scale violence in yesterday’s elections,” West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee President Adhir Chowdhury said.
“But our demand for holding fresh elections has not been fulfilled,” Chowdhury said.
The polls in these two municipal corporations are considered significant for being the last key elections in the state before it goes to Assembly polls next year.
A number of journalists covering the elections were also manhandled and a few of them had to be hospitalised.
Leaders of both opposition parties and the ruling party visited the injured journalists in hospitals this morning.
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